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Get Into A Holiday State of Mind:
By Rachel Flaherty

10 MORE Ways to Celebrate This Season

Let’s face it. Whether this is your first Christmas in Hangzhou or your 15th, celebrating one’s own traditions far away from home can be a difficult if not near impossible task. Some people give up all together. Other’s make a bit of effort on Christmas Eve -- maybe finding a nice restaurant or something. But this year the MORE team is here to push you out of your winter doldrums, and change your inner bah hum bug Scrooge into a Hangzhouvian who appreciates this magical and spiritual time of year, no matter your beliefs. Taking our cues from Christmas Carols, we have scoured Hangzhou for 10 ways to help you embrace the holiday spirit and spice-up your holidays.

1. “O’ Christmas Tree”
First things first. Go out and buy yourself a Christmas Tree. Nothing screams Christmas quite like “decking the halls” with lots of sparkling ornaments, lights, and lovely festive decorations. It is simply impossible to get into the holiday spirit if your decor doesn’t match the holiday. Yes: we know that living in China can cause a person to become rather inured to Christmas ornaments, seeing as many places seem to keep their decorations up year-round; but that’s no excuse for not decorating your own home. While Santa’s helpers may have been decorating the local noodle shop for ages, they can still help you get your “falalala” on in your own pad.

Head down to Metro where you can buy your very own Christmas tree and plenty of Christmas decorations. Metro: 1459 Moganshan Road (莫干山路1459号), and 355 East Genshan Road  (艮山东路355号).

Besides Metro, there are a multitude of options for buying Christmas decorations, from the omnipresent Taobao, to heading into Shanghai for the brick-and-mortar IKEA experience. By far the easiest option is the Huanbei Little Products Market (环北小商品市场) near Fengqi Road and West Jiankang Road  (凤起路和西健康路).

2. “Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding”
Now while the song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” extols the virtues of “Figgy Pudding,” we can’t say that we have tried the stuff. However, baking during the holidays and making holiday inspired drinks is a fabulous way to get into a festive mood. Making ginger bread cookies or houses is something that I still vividly remember from my own childhood. Why not makes some minced pies? If fruitcake is your thing, by all means make some -- just spare us the obligatory “fruit brick” Christmas gift. Leave some cookies for jolly ol’ St. Nicholas this year, and who knows who’ll swoop down your chimney.

Not all of us have an oven here in China; and frankly, sometimes the tiny toaster ovens don’t really cut it. If you too are AGA-impaired, head over to A+ DIY Cake Shop at 45 Gaoji Road  (高技路45号). There you can bake to your heart’s content with in fully-stocked kitchen. It won’t fill your nicely-decorated home with the fragrance of freshly-baked goods, but just think of how clean your own kitchen will remain.

If baking is not your thing - and there’s no shame in that! - you can still go in for some festive holiday drinks. Mulled Wine (Britain), Glögg (Sweden), Vin Chaud (France), Glühwein (Germany) – whatever your lingua franca, spiced-up vino is an easy option for freezing winter nights here in terra incognita. So get some friends together and sip something that will warm the cockles of your hearts.

3. “Bring Us Out A Mouldy Cheese and Some of Your Christmas Loaf”
Instead of going out to a restaurant, why not try your own hand at making Christmas dinner this year? Now, if your worst nightmare is this line from “Here We Come a Wa-ssailing,” do not despair just yet. FieldsChina is planning an “Advent Calendar” style promotion this year starting the 1st of December. They will have one special holiday product on sale for up to 25% each day until the 25th of December. This way you can order your turkey, ham, or duck in time for Christmas. Some of their products will include Kaluga Queen Caviar, Urbani Black Truffle Drops Olive oil, and many fresh produce --- go to their website to find out more. They will also be featuring expertly put together gift baskets to help you gather together all your Christmas gifts in time. Whatever you are craving this holiday let FieldsChina take care of it for you.

Your guests need not worry about receiving only blue cheese and bread when you order your dinner through FieldsChina. Think of how impressed all your friends will be with the veritable gastronomic spread you lay out for them! Remember, Christmas is the time of year for giving, so give the gift of a wonderful home-cooked meal. But if you are quaking in fear that you might poison your near-ones and dear-ones, remember that a good cookbook is oftentimes your best friend, and that these days there are enough apps to lead even the most amateurish cook to the lofty heights of Martha Stewart or Nigella Lawson.

4. "Whence Is That Lovely Fragrance Wafting?" 
For the kitchen-challenged, never fear: there are many mouth-watering choices available that will bring a special twinkle to the holidays. Le Lotus at Chaptel is offering a unique Christmas dinner this Christmas Eve (Wednesday the 24th of December). Have a great time with your family in the hottest boutique hotel in town. Le Lotus Restaurant offers wonderful French food and amazing seafood platter combinations for only 699RMB+15% per person -- add a bottle of wine for only 899RMB+15% per person. Spend a warm and memorable night in Chaptel Hangzhou! Located on 57 Changsheng Road (长生路57号). This luxury boutique hotel is a mere three-minute walk from West Lake. Chaptel Hotel rises from the remains of Shikumen, once-typical folk residences hailing from the 1930s. Enclosed by timeworn brick walls, four two-story compounds sit neatly behind the closed wooden doors and lure people to walk into living history. Chaptel is a gentle coexistence of both tradition and fashion that is the perfect place to dine this Christmas. 

If you want to get out of town and have something different in mind, what beats a family holiday getaway to Thailand? Here is an option we have picked for you. Phuket’s new ultra-luxury resort Kata Rocks is transforming into a mini-Monaco through the festive season, from the King’s Cup regatta through to Christmas, as a party venue for the super-yacht set. Kata Rocks is on a spectacular ocean front headland overlooking Kata Beach and the Andaman Sea, featuring 34 villas with “Ocean Loft”-design inspired by super yachts and private infinity pools, an oceanfront restaurant, 35-metre pool with poolside bar, a sublime spa and a state-of-the-art gym. Kata Rocks continues this new tradition into the height of the festive season, inviting luxury yacht owners to anchor for a classy Christmas Eve dinner and family sundown BBQ with live jazz on Christmas Day. Christmas Eve Dinner is a gastronomic four-course feast on December 24th priced at THB 3,800. The menu starts with amuse bouche gingerbread prawn, saffron and lime crème fraiche, followed by a choice of organic pumpkin and smoked tomato soup or chicken broth with turkey and cranberry ravioli. Appetizer is duck terrine, foie gras and stone fruits with crisp breads and apple-cherry chutney, or smoked and cured Scottish salmon, beetroot jelly and organic greens. Champagne and ginger sorbet with cherry caviar introduces main course choices of crispy spiced barramundi with shaved fennel and champagne citrus salad, or traditional Christmas ham and turkey with sage and bacon stuffing, cranberry jam and roast veggies.  Dessert is traditional Christmas pudding with brandy custard, cherry compote and vanilla-gingerbread ice cream, or nougat parfait macerated fruits & spiced honey wafer, with coffee or tea and petit fours. Christmas Day Family Sundown BBQ showcases a feast of interactive buffet stations, complete with live jazz, children’s entertainment, ice-cream stand and Christmas presents, priced THB 2,800. For those celebrating at home, Kata Rocks is also preparing Christmas Hampers for up to ten guests with a traditional roast turkey dinner and all the trimmings. Priced THB 16,000 with pre-ordering required at least 48 hours in advance, the hamper also includes dessert of Christmas pudding & brandy custard, festive season cookies and fresh fruit. For reservations at Kata Rocks, contact

5. “You’re All I Want For Christmas”
Get ready to hug it out this holiday season. Grab your sweeties and embrace -- no mistletoe required. Hyatt on the Bund is getting into the charity spirit to lighten up the over-commercialization that the holidays can become. From now until the 24th of December each original HUG image you share with the hotel via Weibo, WeChat (hyattonthebundsh), and Facebook (Hyatt on the Bund) will contribute 1RMB to the Library Project, which uses donations to build libraries for China’s children who are living in poverty. Knowledge is a way of breaking the cycle of poverty, so why not take a picture a quick picture of all the hugs you give this holiday season. Remember too that you can deliver toys or other goods to the many orphanages in the Hangzhou area. Don’t forget the less fortunate this season, since they need holiday cheer just as much if not more.

6. “Away In a Manger”
Thank your lucky stars you don’t have to stay in a manger this holiday season. We have far more luxurious options available should you like to leave home but not venture too far afield. Naked Stables is offering a fabulous package deal that the three wise men would have jumped at. Their package includes two days and one night, with Glühwein, ginger bread man decorating, Christmas tree lighting, and a traditional Christmas dinner at Kikaboni by Stiller, along with toasting marshmallows around their campfire -- and of course a visit from Santa.  Then, on New Year’s Eve, there will be a special dinner with sparking wine toast available. Prices start at 1,088RMB per person/night and reservation can be made at 400 9200 518 or 021 6431 8901, check out their website for further details. Experiencing nature in their secluded Moganshan retreat is sure to make for a one of a kind holiday experience, one that the whole family is sure to enjoy.

7. “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
Ctrip most certainly is making the Holidays the most wonderful time of the year in the form of their Christmas Lottery titled “Are you going to be a Grinch?,” celebrating the festival season. It is open to all registered Ctrip members that book a flight between 18th of October and 31st of December 2014, and all those who take part are guaranteed to win something. In a sweet Yuletide twist, participants can opt to keep the gift for themselves or give it to a friend or loved one. Just go to the Ctrip webpage (either the Chinese or English version) and enter your flight number, then choose whether you want to be a Grinch or not. For those of you who have yet to watch “The Grinch” we highly suggest you watch the cartoon -- skip the Jim Carrey movie altogether and go with pure nostalgia. Participate by going to:

8. “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary ceremonies of France-China relations and friendship, the PSL L’Orchestre Philharmonique will be giving a New Year Symphonic Concert on December 28th at the Hangzhou Theater. Under the direction of Johan Farjot, they will be touring China till the 3rd of January. Their repertoire will consist of a mélange of Western and Chinese composers to delight and shed significance on this special occasion. The program will include works by Camille Saint-Saëns, George Bizet, George Gershwin, Li Huanzhi, and Chen Gang/He Zhanhao. The violin soloist will be Genevieve Laurenceau, with Guillaume Cornut on Piano. Soprano Amroisine Bre will sing from Bizet’s Opera Carmen. A night of music is a pleasant way to enjoy the holiday season and is far more fun than caroling door-to-door -- which we don’t recommend trying in Hangzhou.
Starts at 7:30pm.
Address: 360 Tiyuchang Road 体育场路360号
Tickets: 100RMB, 200RMB, 300RMB, VIP.
Booking hotline: 0571--85177801

9. “Peace on Earth”
When the holidays begin to wind down this season, why not treat your body to a little tender loving care. After gut busting meals, stress, and one too many chocolates or cookies why not give a cleanse a try? Starting in California, juice cleanses have slowly developed a loyal following among Hollywood actors and health fanatics alike. This trend has slowly caught on in Europe and now has made its way to Hangzhou. VCleanse in Shanghai offers arguably one of the best cleanse experience you can take part in. Now this might not be for the faint of heart as not many of us look forward to living off of a purely liquid diet. Still, after all that artery clogging goodness of the holidays trust me your guts could use a solid food vacation!

VCleanse specializes in an assortment of cold-pressed organic juices, delicious nut milks, and infusions or hot soups, plus delivery! This December they are offering a 1-Day Special called the Warming Day for 368RMB. This includes seven bottles of cleanse drinks, including warm soups, hot infusions, nut milks from their newest releases and their classic cold-pressed juices. Included in this offer will be their first launch of the V Latte and limited edition warming poetic themed mugs. I recommend trying their 1-Day cleanse before jumping into their 3-Day or 5-Day cleanses. Gift cards are available for all the different length cleanses, with ladies receiving six bottles per day and men receiving eight bottles per day.  Want more info, check out their website:

10. “Silent Night, Holy Night”
Finally, during the holiday season, we recommend two of the towns great spas. While pricey, remember: it’s not like you are doing this every day. It’s a special once-a-year treat, so, be pampered. Let experienced hands rub away all the stress (and scaly winter skin) that can come along with the holiday season. Book a spa day, relax, and find a bit of rejuvenating silence amid all the holiday excitement.

The Art of Touch at the Banyan Tree Hangzhou offers a range of Asian-inspired treatments which celebrate the human touch with the use of natural herbs and spices. It warms you up with a perfect combination of Thai and Chinese massages for total rejuvenation. Relax as their therapist blends subtle stretching with rhythmic massaging to promote deep relaxation while improving flexibility, and feel your stress melt away with a healing foot therapy. Conclude your relaxing spa journey with a Green Tea Milk Bath or Body Conditioner. 150-minute treatment and 30-minute refreshments and relaxation; Thai Classic Massage with warm sesame oil (90 minutes) ; Chinese Foot Massage (30 minutes); Green Tea Milk Bath/Body Conditioner (30 minutes);  Refreshments and relaxation (30 minutes) -- 1,888RMB net. For more details, call 0571 8586 0000, ext. 7702.

And at the Spa at Four Seasons Hangzhou, try an invigorating combination of spa treatments and culinary treats. Their “Journey of Rejuvenation” package is perfect for regaining personal well-being just in time for the New Year. Their package includes: A personal training session (yoga, tai-chi or stretching exercise, 60 minutes); an herbal warming treatment and massage (choose one treatment from aromatherapy, de-stress or jet-leg retreat, 90 minutes), and a healthy light meal. Price: 2,880RMB per person.

Latest 5 Stories

Join Wellington | Online Open Day on 8th April

Over the past eight weeks, the Wellington College International Hangzhou community has rallied together to face and overcome the challenges associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. During this time, Wellington College International Hangzhou is experiencing an increasing number of enquiries for admissions, and from March 30th the entire Admissions team have been back on campus assisting families through the admissions process.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, we are unable to host families on campus for our personalised tours, but that doesn’t mean you cannot learn more about the unique Wellington approach to holistic education. From phone conversations, email and video conferencing, through to our 360-degree virtual campus tours and online information sessions, we can still connect in this digital age despite our distance.

Online Open Day

On Wednesday 8th April, Wellington College International Hangzhou will be hosting an online information session, open to anyone keen to learn more about Wellington.

In this webinar style event, Mr. Paul Rogers, founding Executive Master of Wellington College Hangzhou, will provide a broad overview and introduction to the Wellington College family of schools, our heritage, educational philosophy and values.

Ms. Kathryn Richardson, Principal of Wellington College International Hangzhou, will take a deeper dive into what makes a Wellington education unique, as well as exploring many of the common topics that parents are curious about.

Additionally, you will have the opportunity to take a 360-degree virtual campus tour to view the state-of-the-art facilities we have on offer and how we utilize these facilities to provide the very best possible education for the children in our care. 

Finally, we will host a live Q&A session where participants will be able to interact with the speakers and Admissions team, allowing us to address the questions that are important to you.

Scholarships at Wellington

In order to recognise and reward the pursuit and achievement of excellence in pupils at Wellington College International Hangzhou, and to make a Wellington education accessible to a broader range of pupils throughout Hangzhou and surrounding regions, scholarships, awards and bursaries are available to different year levels at Wellington. Awards of up to 100% of the tuition fees will be available to successful applications in Year 7 or above in August 2020.  For more information, please visit this link or contact our Admissions team directly.

eLearning at Wellington

Results from our recent parent survey are conclusive. Our eLearning provision is meeting the needs of our families and ensuring that children are meeting their educational needs during this difficult time. 94% of Wellington College International Hangzhou families agree that our teachers have ensured that our pupils, irrespective of time zones, have been able to access all learning materials during this period of eLearning.

Since eLearning started, Wellington College International Hangzhou pupils have been able to maintain their close-knit relationships with their teachers and classmates. These ongoing relationships, personalised learning plans, 1:1 tutoring where required and innovative use of technology to smoothly facilitate learning objectives has ensured that our children are all progressing as they should during this time.

This high-quality eLearning provision is a testament to Wellington’s ongoing commitment to always providing the best possible learning outcomes to the children in our care, regardless of circumstance or challenge. We remain committed to this objective and welcome enquiries from all parents who are interesting in providing a world-class education to their children.

To learn more about eLearning at Wellington College International Hangzhou, please click the links below to learn more;

Top 12 FAQs | All you need to know about joining Wellington!

The Admissions team regularly fields questions from parents who are keen to learn more about Wellington, and as a result have compiled the following useful FAQ. Please click the link below to see what other parents are curious about.

Do you have different questions? Are you interested in learning more about Wellington? If so, we welcome you to join our online open day being hosted at 7pm on Wednesday 8th April. We look forward to seeing you there!

Don’t forget that our Admissions team are available at any time to answer your questions. Due to the international nature of the school, we field questions at all times of the day. Feel free to contact us using any of the methods listed below and we will respond to your enquiry within 48 hours.

Hot-Pot King Haidilao Pilots “Do Not Disturb” Service

The Chinese hot-pot restaurant chain Haidilao is known for a lot of things, except being moderate. They will give you a free manicure and clean your shoes while you’re waiting for your table, provide a big stuffed animal to keep you company if you’re lunching alone, and perform an acrobatic dance if you order noodles.

Haidilao is the epitome of the “client comes first” mentality that will go to great length to provide you with first-rate service. However, as experience shows, some clients find that the best service is when they are left alone and not bothered by pesky over-the-top courtesy.

At one time Chinese Internet was replete with articles titled along the lines of “Don’t let Haidilao know your birthday, it’s too scary” where users would detail their experiences dealing with the restaurant’s overblown birthday service that included singing and dancing waiters holding LED lights and more. Some have even joked saying “If you hate your friend, go to Haidilao for their birthday.”

To tackle the problem and better cater to the needs of different groups of customers, Haidilao recently introduced a witty solution. Tables in some of the chain’s restaurants are now equipped with “Do not disturb” flip-boards. Customers who do not want to be approached too often by waiters can use the sign to fend off their insistent advances.

The flip-board also provides other options such as “I’ll serve dishes myself” meaning that the waiter does not need to help with the dishes frequently or “detailed services are not required” telling waiters that they are only wanted to bring dishes and clean the table.

According to Haidilao, the service is still in the pilot stage, and it will be tried in some stores. It will continue to be optimized according to the needs of customers and different situations. Stores and employees will be continuously encouraged to innovate and provide customers with more personalized services.

Though Haidilao's service has always been known as "perverted", but sometimes it is too intimate and it can cause embarrassment. A while ago, a post named "Don't let Haidilao know your birthday" went viral on the internet.

“I went to Haidilao with my girlfriend, we just asked if we could get a discount on birthdays, then a group of people appeared with LED lights and sang the birthday song, they even gave us a ‘Most Beautiful Girlfriend Reward” and asked us to read the girlfriend vows to each other.’

“Two of us went to celebrate my friend’s birthday at Haidilao, we hid the cake in our bag and sneaked some scoops every now and then, just because we were so scared that the waiters would find out that’s her birthday, then we would be the super star of the night.”

“Look at me, I looked so surprised and happy!”

Therefore, for many customers who like Haidilao, the appearance of "Do Not Disturb" flip-board is simply a relief and has been unanimously appreciated by everyone.

Top 10 Easy-to-make Winter Drinks

From a steaming glass of traditional mulled wine, brimming with spices, to an indulgent mudslide cocktail, our winter drinks recipes are perfect for seeing in the festive season. Curl up in your fluffiest jumper with a creamy peppermint hot chocolate, or get the party started with a batch of our marvellous mulled gin.

Keep everyone's glasses topped up with our favourite festive drinks, and mouth-watering non-alcoholic drinks for every taste. Find top mixology tips, reviews of our favourite products and even more triple-tested recipes in our cocktails & drinks hub.

Spiced Apple Syrup with Clementine & Cloves

Our spiced apple syrup with clementine and cloves will add a burst of fabulous Christmas flavour to any drink. Try adding to hot apple juice or mulled wine for festive fruit and spice. It's even delicious drizzled over ice cream for an upgraded frozen treat. It will keep for about a month, so store it in the fridge ready for impromptu gatherings.

200ml apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole allspice
1 mace blade
2 whole cloves
Small strip fresh ginger
1 clementine, zest finely peeled with a vegetable peeler
100g golden caster sugar

1.    Heat the apple juice with the whole spices, ginger, zest and sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins.
2.    Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain the syrup into small bottles.

Mulled Wine

It wouldn't be winter without a steaming mug of mulled wine, complete with a glug of sloe gin for a sweet twist. Simply leave your wine, (we recommend an unoaked tempranillo) to infuse with seasonal spices like star anise and cinnamon and a little citrus zest. Keep a batch warming on the stove and let guests top up their glasses. Want to try something different this year?

750ml bottle red wine
1 large cinnamon stick, or 2 small ones
2 star anise
4 cloves
2 strips lemon zest, pared using a vegetable peeler
4 tbsp caster sugar
100ml sloe gin (we used Gordon's) (optional)

1.    Put the red wine, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, lemon zest and sugar in a large pan. Cook on a low heat for 10 mins.
2.    Remove from the heat and cool, leaving to infuse for about 30 mins.
3.    To serve, heat without boiling, stir in the sloe gin (if using) and pour into mugs or heatproof glasses.

Winter Whisky Sour

Warm up from the inside out with our simple winter whiskey sour. Give the classic sour a couple of delicious tweaks and it's ready for the festive season. Add a splash of orange juice to your favourite bourbon, a little sugar syrup, some fresh fruit and some sparkle. Need some more help getting into the spirit?

Crushed ice
50ml bourbon
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
½ tbsp sugar syrup
2 slices of oranges

To decorate:
Gold edible glitter

1.    Using a small paintbrush (or your finger), brush some honey around the rim of two tumblers and use another small paintbrush to stick edible gold glitter around each.
2.    Fill each glass with crushed ice. Put the bourbon into a cocktail shaker with the lemon juice, orange juice and sugar syrup. Shake and strain into each glass, and serve with an orange slice and short straws.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Nothing says 'indulgence' like a velvety-smooth hot chocolate, made with rich dark chocolate and double cream. Stir our peppermint hot chocolate with a striped candy cane and let it melt into the drink for a refreshing minty flavour. These delectable drinks are hard to resist. Got something.

200g bar plain chocolate, broken into chunks
600ml milk
150ml pot single or double cream
Sugar, to taste
6 peppermint candy canes, to serve

1.    Put the chocolate in a pan with the milk. Gently heat, stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Continue heating until the milk is steaming, then remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
2.    Divide the hot chocolate between 6 mugs, add sugar to taste and hang a candy cane on the edge of each. Pass the mugs round and let everyone stir their hot chocolate with their candy cane – letting as much of the sweet peppermint dissolve as they fancy.

Cinnamon Buttered Rum

Once you're tried our super smooth, gently spiced cinnamon buttered rum, it'll be your drink of choice when the nights draw in. Serve up mugfuls of this buttery brilliance for your next party. Neither sickly sweet nor too citrussy, this perfectly balanced tipple will warm you up in no time. Whether you prefer white or dark, spiced or smooth, we have a rum cocktail recipe to get your party started.

25g butter
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
2 small cinnamon sticks
200ml spiced rum

1.    Gently heat the butter, golden caster sugar and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2.    Stir in the spiced rum, then pour into four small heatproof glasses to serve.

Mulled Pear & Cranberry Punch

Our versatile mulled pear & cranberry punch can be served as a cocktail or a non-boozy version, simply miss out the sloe gin. The beauty of this all-in-one recipe means you can simply chuck your ingredients in a pan, leave to heat, then ladle out as needed. It takes just ten minutes to make, so no need to sweat it out in the kitchen.

1l pear cider
1l pear (or cloudy apple) juice
1l cranberry juice
Good handful fresh or dried cranberries
150ml sloe gin
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla pods, scored lengthways

Put all the ingredients into your biggest saucepan or casserole dish. When you're ready to serve, heat to just below simmering point, then ladle into glasses.


This creamy, coffee-flavoured cocktail is for adults only. Our mudslide is pure decadence, something to be savoured and sipped at your leisure.

50g dark chocolate
60ml coffee-flavoured liqueur
60ml vodka
60ml Irish cream liqueur
100ml double cream

1.    Put two small tumblers in the fridge to chill overnight. Put 30g of the chocolate in a shallow bowl and melt in the microwave in short bursts. Dip the rim of the chilled glasses in the melted chocolate, then stand them upright so it gradually drips down the sides. Return to the fridge until you're ready to serve.
2.    Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then pour in the coffee-flavoured liqueur, vodka, Irish cream liqueur and double cream. Shake until the outside of the shaker is very cold.
3.    Put a few ice cubes in the prepared glasses, then strain in the cocktail. Finely grate over the remaining chocolate and serve with a paper straw.

Winter Pimm's Punch

This archetypal English cocktail isn't just for summer. Our Winter Pimm's punch is paired with sweet brandy and light apple juice for an instant cocktail cabinet winner. You'll probably have most of the ingredients already lurking in kitchen cupboards. It can be served warm or cool, depending on what you prefer.

500ml Pimm's
500ml brandy
1½ l apple juice

2 cinnamon sticks
Apple, sliced
Orange, sliced
Combine the Pimm's and brandy with the apple juice in a jug filled with ice, cinnamon sticks and a sliced apple and orange.

Mulled Gin

Looking for something a little different than the standard festive fare? Move over wine, this mulled gin is our new favourite Christmas cocktail. Infuse apple juice with aromatic spices like bay, cloves and cardamom, a few crushed juniper berries and a little honey for sweetness. Cut through rich canapés and sweet treats with this more delicate drink.

100ml gin
400ml apple juice
½ lemon, sliced
1 bay leaf
4 cloves
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 small cinnamon stick
3 juniper berries, lightly crushed
½ tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp runny honey

For the garnish
4 bay leaves
2 lemon slices, halved

1.    Divide the gin between four small heatproof glasses or teacups.
2.    Tip the apple juice into a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Heat gently until simmering, then strain into a jug. Pour the mulled apple juice into the glasses with the gin and stir gently to combine. Garnish each glass with a bay leaf and half a lemon slice and serve warm.

Irish Coffee

Perk up the after-dinner lull with a luxurious Irish coffee. A grating of fresh nutmeg on top of the thick layer of cream adds some seasonal fragrance. Need some help choosing the perfect dram? Read our review of the 10 best Irish whiskies, from light and smooth to rich and spicy.

2 tbsp double cream
150ml freshly brewed black coffee
50ml Irish whiskey
½ - 1 tsp brown sugar
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1.    Lightly whip the cream just so it’s very slightly thickened, then set aside.
2.    Pour the hot coffee into a mug or heatproof glass, then add the whiskey and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Gently float the cream on the top and sprinkle the nutmeg over the cream. Serve hot.


It’s Ok to Lose, Just Learn From It

My first encounter with Marco was through my friend’s WeChat moments. I can’t really recall for what reason we added each other, all I could remember were his big muscles and that bright smile hailing from L.A. Later on, we had more contact due to a few common friends who are involved with martial arts and I started to know him more.

Who is Marco

Marco has gained quite a reputation in the martial arts world since arriving in Hangzhou in 2018. He used to train at Checkmat Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in USA, an international academy, competition team, and family of Jiu Jitsu practitioners. Founded in 2008 by Master Vieira, Checkmat now has affiliate academies in thirty-four American cities and sixteen countries worldwide. You can find world-class, hands-on instruction that has been tested on the practice mats and proven on the competition field.

In Hangzhou, Marco started his own brand - Marcola Jiu Jitsu. It offers Jiu Jitsu training classes to people of different ages, whether professional or not. As one of the few black belt holders in China, his classes are really popular. Marco’s lifelong love of competitive athletics has molded him into both a lover and a fighter. His passion for athletics and a genuine desire to help people reach their fitness goals motivates him to continue learning each day, and develop new techniques to challenge himself and his clients. You see doctors, lawyers, students, law enforcers, businessmen and women walk into his class for the same reason - to get better at Jiu Jitsu.

Marco’s full name is Marco Alvarado and his Chinese name is rather cute: 马可乐. His Chinese friends would just call him 可乐, same as Cola. Before we tell you more, take a look at his incredible championship records below, the man is a real fighter.

Bronze Medal at International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Pan American Championship Blue Belt
Gold Medal at North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation All Americas Tournament Purple Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF Pan American Championships Brown Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF World No Gi Championships Brown Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF American Nationals No Gi Brown Belt
Silver Medal at Jiu Jitsu World League San Diego Championships Black Belt
Gold Medal at NABJJF All Americas Tournament Black Belt

Marco has been involved in many kinds of sports - boxing, taekwondo, karate, running, American football – and also physical rehabilitation. Like many other athletes, Marco’s first coach was his dad who was a boxer. Marco was just 5 years old when his dad introduced him to boxing. It was the classic story, his parents decided to put him in taekwondo and karate training when they found out that little Marco was being bullied in kindergarten. Six years later, he received his first black belt in taekwondo.

After that, he decided to move on to a new sport: running. From sixth grade till he graduated college, he never stopped running and he became one of the US national athletes in track and field.

Eventually, he knew he needed to find another new sport to challenge himself. One day, he went to a free Jiu Jitsu class at his college. Someone caught him in a choke, he had no idea what to do and that got him really interested. He wanted to know how it happened, how he did it, and how to do it back. He was 22 at the time. 10 years later, he won the Gold Medal at North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Championships.

It’s Ok to Lose, Just Learn From It

As an amateur boxer who has only been training for 4 months, there was a question I really wanted to ask so I brought it up when we were having a lunch break at Blue Frog. “Before you had your first fight, how did you overcome your inner fear?” Marco took a bite of his big, juicy burger and said “My first Jiu Jitsu tournament was six months after I started training, I was very nervous. We sparred every week in college, so I learned how to deal with the fear, but this time was different. I knew who my opponents were, but I didn’t know what was going to happen. I got destroyed badly in two fights, one guy caught me in the armbar in 20 seconds, the other guy beat me so bad like 20-0. I left deflated and frustrated, but I wanted to do it again, I wanted redemption. This gives you more motivation to go back to train harder and learn from mistakes. In the fights later on, I started to get into my rhythm and started doing well. Sometimes maybe you don’t want to tap and lose in practice, because it hurts your pride for a day or two, but you come back for more training. It’s ok to lose, just learn from it. That’s an important life lesson.” During Marco’s career, his arms were almost broken a couple of times, he tore some ligaments on his knees and he got two broken teeth. With all these injuries, he had to learn about physical therapy in order to fix himself.

“Martial arts is more about avoiding problems than anything else. These days, there are always those untrained people or the ones who watched too much UFC and are looking for trouble. If you trained a little, you’ll have respect for your body. This stuff is no joke, it can really be dangerous.” Marco continues, “My teacher used to say if there is a fight, he’ll just run away, because he would feel bad for the guys once he’s had enough. He would turn around and fight.”

Why Hangzhou?

Back in L.A, Marco was teaching in a big chain gym where he soon became friends with a Taiwanese trainer. He followed his friend’s journey that brought him to Hangzhou to continue teaching for Checkmat and he became aware that there are a lot of blue and purple belt holders who opened Jiu Jitsu schools in Hangzhou, but there were only 2-3 with a black belt teaching here. Marco thought that he can bring people more advanced technique and professional training. So in June, 2018, Marco came to start his first job in a gym in Xiaoshan, teaching conditioning and creating a Jiu Jitsu program.

MMA vs. Traditional Chinese Martial Arts

I couldn’t help asking what Marco thinks about this outspoken Chinese MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong a.k.a. “Mad Dog”. Mad Dog has made it his mission to expose fake kung fu over the past two years by pulverising fraudulent traditional martial arts “masters”, but his actions have drawn the ire of Chinese authorities. “In my point of view, Bruce [Lee] was the first MMA fighter in the history of martial arts, because he was always so open minded about everything. He took things that he thought were useful and added on something unique of his own. I think Xu Xiaodong’s mission is to show that not one martial arts is dominating. If you know a bit of everything, that is more effective. I think Jiu Jitsu is very useful and complete, cause you go from standing to the ground, you can also go back up to defend yourself, knowledge is powerful. Martial arts is changing, and you need to keep yourself updated. Back home, some guys can use their chi to make someone fall. This is not video games, we call it McDojo.”

The Distance Between China and the World

Many are also immersed in the joy of Zhang Weili who won China’s first Gold Belt in MMA. She is now gearing up to defend her UFC strawweight title against the former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk on March 8, 2020. Marco thinks that China has started to close the gap with the other western countries and now there are more and more young Chinese fighters in UFC. Marco told me, “With Jiu Jitsu, specifically, China is a little bit behind. Brazil and US now are the two countries with the best fighters. There are a lot of 15-18 years old kids that have been training since they were 5. That means they have over 10 years of experience on the mat which is more than me. They have all those tricks that I have never seen, the level is just incredible. Even though China has a lot of catching up to do, they are doing a good job.”

How Did My First Jiu Jitsu Class Go?

I joined Marco’s class at R8 a few weeks ago. I was not only impressed by his superb Jiu-Jitsu skills, but also his passion in coaching. When a fight moves down to the ground, it can be quite brutal, especially in Jiu Jitsu where there are so many different kinds of chokes. It seems that getting bruises, breaking teeth or arms are normal in this sport. Plus, did I mention that if you are practicing with a guy, you’d better get used to some rather odd positions? Even Marco himself admitted that Jiu Jitsu positions can sometimes be awkward. 

So I didn’t go in with a lot of confidence, but Marco’s explanation and demonstration of each move made everything seem possible. It is a grappling-based martial art where the central theme is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit. Due to the fact that control is generally easier on the ground than in a standing position, much of the technique of Jiu Jitsu is centered around the skill of taking an opponent down to the ground and wrestling for dominant control positions from where the opponent can be rendered harmless. All those awkward positions can be very effective; the basis behind it is all about leverage. It’s about using the whole body on another body part, even if your opponent is a bodybuilder, he can’t win. If you are skilled in Jiu Jitsu, you can definitely hold yourself against 95% of the population; most people don’t even know how to fall down properly.

The Beauty of Jiu Jitsu

Marco has about 30 tough students at the moment and he’s determined to stay for a much longer time. Recently he took 7 people to attend the Shanghai Tournament and got 10 gold medals, this shows that this tiny team is going in the right direction. For the next step, Marco wants to create a kids’ program. He wants to share what he has with the next generation.

"It's important to stay focused and keep an open mind when it comes to learning Jiu Jitsu." The Jiu Jitsu lifestyle goes beyond just training. It's about taking care of yourself, making friends, and striving to put your 'best foot forward'. Setting your mind to learning and improving every week will help you to improve mind, body and soul. His over-all team goal is to improve at least 1% every week and this requires a positive attitude.

Online Open Day: What Makes Wellington Special?

In light of the success of the first online open day, Wellington College International Hangzhou is very much aware of requests for an additional session held on a weekend, to enable more families to tune in and join the interactive Q&A session. The coming online open day will be held at 10am on Saturday 18th April.This event is open to anyone keen to learn more about Wellington College International Hangzhou.


The open day includes;

·       A broad overview and introduction to the Wellington College family of schools, royal heritage, educational philosophy and values by Mr. Paul Rogers, founding Executive Master of Wellington College Hangzhou.

·      惠灵顿杭州校区总校长Paul Rogers将对惠灵顿大家庭的姊妹学校、悠久历史、以及我们的教育理念和价值观做整体介绍。

·       A deeper dive into what makes a Wellington education unique, and a presentation exploring many of the common topics that parents are curious about by Ms. Kathryn Richardson, Principal of Wellington College International Hangzhou

·      杭州惠灵顿外籍人员子女学校校长Kathryn Richardson将深入阐述惠灵顿教育的与众不同之处以及就家长们关心的一些常见问题与大家进行探讨。

·       A live Q&A session where participants will be able to interact with the speakers and Admissions Team, allowing the team to address the questions that are important to you.

·      最后,在问答环节,我们的主讲人和招生团队将与家长们互动,对家长们的问题作出解答。

All interested families are suggested to scan the QR code on the poster to register. Registered attendees will receive a reminder notification prior to the event starting.


Welcome Back to Wellington

As pupils quickly approach the highly anticipated return to schools in Hangzhou, Wellington College Hangzhou has been strictly following the local regulations on epidemic prevention in order to prepare the Wellington community for a smooth transition back to normality.


At Wellington College Hangzhou, ensuring the safety of the school community and protecting the health of Wellington pupils and staff always takes top priority. Over the past three months, the Senior Leadership Team and a specially appointed school emergency team have implemented a detailed COVID-19 plan that covers all aspects of school life, and ensures that strict guidelines will be followed to minimize risk and increase safety.


The Wellington College Hangzhou campus has undertaken a comprehensive site inspection by both the Education Bureau and the Hangzhou medical authority. Both inspection teams were incredibly impressed with Wellington’s preparations.


Wellington understand that this will be a difficult transition for their children, yet remain confident that with careful guidance, and through demonstrating the Wellington Values of Courage, Kindness, Responsibility, Respect and Integrity, the children will adapt quickly and fully embrace the mission of ensuring a safe return to school.


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